A's Bats Hot in Cubs Cactus League Opener

The Oakland A's outscored the Cubs 15-3 over the final eight innings to overcome a 4-0 1st inning deficit, pounding out 18 hits while thrashing the Cubs 15-7 in what was the Cubs 2011 Cactus League opener, played in 50 degree temperatures after an all-night rain before a disappointing crowd of only 6,892 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.   

box score

The Cubs got off to a quick 4-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st against A's starter Travis Cahill. Lead-off man Kosuke Fukudome drew a walk, and advanced to 3rd base as Starlin Castro roped a single to RF. Castro stole 2nd base (uncontested), and Fukudome scored and Castro advanced to 3rd base on a Marlon Byrd line-drive RBI single to CF. Aramis Ramirez followed with an RBI single, and after Carlos Pena grounded into a 4-6 FC, Alfonso Soriano ripped an RBI double down the LF line, scoring Byrd and sending Ramirez to 3rd. Geovany Soto grounded an RBI single to LF to plate Ramirez, before Blake DeWitt grounded into a rally-killing inning-ending 6-3 DP.

Meanwhile, Carlos Zambrano was mowing down the A's over the first two innings on just 25 pitches (16 strikes), striking out Coco Crisp and Daric Barton to open the game (both swinging), and allowing just a lead-off walk in the top of the 2nd to Kurt Suzuki, who was immediately erased on an Andy LaRoche 4-6-3 ground ball DP. Zambrano's sinker was working well, and he dominated the A's hitters over his two innings of work, getting routine ground balls when he wasn't scoring a strikeout.  

New Cub Matt Garza came into the game to start the 3rd, and proceeded to load the bases on two singles and a walk. Coco Crisp (batting left-handed) then unloaded a towering grand slam HR over the pavillion well beyond the RF fence, tying the game at 4-4 before Garza could retire a hitter. Garza did settle down a bit after that, allowing one more run on two hits while striking out one. For the day, Garza threw 36 pitches (24 strikes) with a 1/4 GO/FO in 2.0 IP. Garza will probably struggle some in the Cactus League, because he is a "fly-ball pitcher," and fly ball pitchers generally give up more runs in Arizona Spring Training games than they will during the regular season.

Although he did not walk anyone, Jeff Samardzija was behind on most of the hitters he faced in his one inning of work, allowing a run on two hits (a one-out double by Daric Barton followed by a Josh Willingham RBI single). Although he did allow a run on two hits, The Shark did get an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP where he shattered Andy LaRoche's bat.

Carlos Marmol struggled with his command in the 6th, but he did not allow a run in his one inning. Justin Berg, however, got hammered in the 7th as the A's broke the game open, allowing seven runs (all earned) on six hits and a walk, while retiring just one hitter. Berg is one of about ten pitchers battling for (likely) one open spot in the bullpen, and he did nothing to help himself with today's miserable performance.   

John Grabow (who is a lock to make the Cubs Opening Day roster) had a poor outing, allowing a single, a double, and a triple (and two runs) in the top of the 8th. 

The Cubs did mount minor rallies in the bottom of the 7th and in the bottom of the 8th, scoring one run in the 7th on a Max Ramirez bases-loaded SF to RF following Fernando Perez and Bryan Lahair singles and a Brett Jackson walk, and two more in the 8th on a Jeff Baker lead-off infield hit, a Darwin Barney double off the left-centerfield fence, and a Josh Vitters line-drive RBI single.

Alfonso Soriano had a nice day at the plate, collecting three hits (the 1st inning RBI double followed by singles in his next two ABs), and Starlin Castro had two singles (both line drives, both to the opposite-field), as did Marlon Byrd.

On defense, Blake DeWitt was charged with a missed-catch fielding error that really should have been scored a FC (the runner waa already safe at 2nd base when the throw arrived), Tyler Colvin bobbled two line drives to RF in the top of the 7th that resulted in runners scoring from 3rd base after they had held up, and CF Fernando Perez misplayed a routine fly ball to left-center into an extra-base hit.  

The Cubs play the Brewers tomorrow at HoHoKam Park.    


Berg, 189.00 ERA, heh.

Az Phil: Garza will probably struggle some in the Cactus League, because he is a "fly-ball pitcher," and fly ball pitchers generally give up more runs in Arizona Spring Training games than they will during the regular season.

Garza may struggle some in May through September Wrigley field for that reason as well.

Day one of spring training and Garza's performance here is meaningless as a predictor of his performance during the year. But as I don't believe the addition of Garza makes us a contender (even with Wainwright's injury) and I believe Guyer, Archer and Chirinos will be in the majors by 2012, with Archer and Lee (arriving around 2013) becoming extremely good players, I have opposed the trade since the day it was made. I hope Garza becomes a star and proves me wrong, but I think the Cubs will continue to miss the playoffs for now (and, in a few years, contend regardless of Garza) while Tampa will turn around because of this trade. The fact that the Rangers, who have a legitimate argument that a top pitcher can get them to the World Series, offered less than us lends credence to my belief we overpaid, imo.

By the way, Guyer (0-2) and Fuld (0-3) held hitless, while Chirinos hit a pinch-hit home run in their first day as Rays, which I know is just as meaningless as Garza's performance, but is just the first day of performances of Garza and those traded for him that I hope do not meet my expectations.

I don't see how that trade is going to "turn around" Tampa.

1. Tampa won their division last year. Unless by "turn around" you mean the trade will make them worse.

2. Tampa got a backup catcher, a backup outfielder, a no-power SS who is years away, and a pitching prospect who even if he develops and stays consistent is still not going to do much better than Garza, who won 15 games for them.

i still cant believe they want to use jake mcgee as a reliever...but i guess they have the luxury of excess starting and a need in the pen. he's a bit fragile, but he's got nice stuff.

Tampa is in a division with teams spending lots of money to improve. They lost significant pieces (Garza, Crawford) and are getting younger.

Yes, turn around may have been the incorrect usage, but they are getting rid of veterans and going with younger players...does rebuild work for you?

I don't believe I agree with your determination on what we gave up either:

1) A "backup catcher" -- seems there are many scouts and analysts who disagree with your immense knowledge on Chirinos' ceiling. All we can go on is perceived value, with many perceiving this value higher than "backup".

2) A backup outfielder -- Guyer hit .340+ at AA at an age appropriate 24 years old. Will this be a high point for him? Perhaps. But he also hig .340+ in winter ball. He always had speed (30-33 stealing last year) and showed developing power last year, with 39 doubles and a .588 slg percentage. Perhaps he is never but a 4th outfielder...hell, perhaps he never makes the big leagues. But to say at this point that he is "a fourth outfielder" is premature...this may be his high point, but he had also previously fought many injuries and this could be a pre-cursor to continued success of .300+ avg, good speed and decent power.

3) A no-power SS who is years away: Hell, why not trade every player in A ball and below at this concept -- they are all years away. And certainly they have reached their power potential at the age of 20, so if they are putting up high slugging by then, screw them. Lee could have a bright future and power (in terms of slg% or HR, rather than projection) is not something I concentrate on when considering the value of a player in A ball, particularly a shortstop.

4) A pitching prospect who even if he develops and stays consistent is still not going to do much better than Garza: If Archer develops and stays consistent, or in another words reaches his potential, he will be significantly better than 42 wins and 44 losses, 3.97 ERA, .252 avg against by the age of 27. If Archer reaches his potential, he is a number 1 ace, something Garza is not close to being.

If we gave so little, why did Tampa do the trade? And why not take any prospect from the loaded Rangers system, who all are better than these bums the Cubs offered? Why...because we overpaid. And we overpaid to possibly (and I stress possibly) get over the .500 mark, not to make the playoffs. It was a terrible trade even if done for fair value and ridiculously bad because we got ripped off.

More importantly, the trade was bad no matter how the players turn out. Prospects have value and, if a trade is going to be made, a team should get commensurate value in return. Corey Patterson may never have developed, but that doesn't mean it would have been good when he was one of the top prospects in baseball to trade him for a serviceable middle infielder like Jeff Baker, even if Baker has turned out to have a better career.

What does Grabow have to do to NOT make the opening day roster?

Your entries below.

Release a sex tape with Hendry's hot wife?

Don't believe Hendry is married any longer. This clearly will not work.

Think up something else.

Release a sex tape with Hendry's hot ex-wife?

With a time stamp from two years ago?

I still don't think that will do much.

IF you can produce a tape of Hendry having sex with Andy McFail, you may have something.

A bullpen spot?

I'm disappointed for Jim Hendry's sake. She was alright.

She was my cousin.

Haha, really? Sorry for being a dick.

She WAS his cousin? Did she quit?

Sorry -- IS my cousin. The previous post said "She was alright" & I responded to the past tense comment by wording MY statement also in the past tense. She does still exist (as far as I know) and she is still related.

My grandmother was her great aunt (and my grandmother has passed on -- so I didn't screw that one up!).

Murder a teammate in cold blood...during a game, on the field of play?

I'm not sure, but I think Zambrano's already done that.

Which teammate? It could make a difference.

I was thinking someone whose jersey number isn't in the 60s or higher.

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  • video of Maddon.


    always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.

    Rob G. 15 min 58 sec ago view
  • from Muskat:

    #Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs

    Rob G. 21 min 16 sec ago view
  • http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561339391889382475-4

    Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.

    Rob G. 26 min 20 sec ago view
  • great defense

    Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.

    Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.

    I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.

    Rob G. 37 min 57 sec ago view
  • If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?

    Craig A. 49 min 15 sec ago view
  • #Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.

    Fun with FIP

    • J. Hammel   3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
    • J. Arrieta     2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
    • J. Lester     2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
    • K. Hendricks  2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
    • J. Lackey     3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
    Rob G. 1 hour 14 min ago view
  • zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k

    he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.

    crunch 1 hour 54 min ago view
  • JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.

    My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.

    Jackstraw 3 hours 6 min ago view
  • Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...

    billybucks 3 hours 23 min ago view
  • joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1

    not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.

    really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.

    crunch 3 hours 27 min ago view
  • Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.

    Eric S 4 hours 12 min ago view
  • Classic Scully - great stuff.

    Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)

    Eric S 9 hours 3 min ago view
  • Here's Scully's call on Bryant's 10th-inning homer:

    "And it's a long fly ball, a mean fly ball, and a gone fly ball."

    VirginiaPhil 10 hours 17 min ago view
  • When the Cubs were the old, hundred-year Cubs, one bad hop did not undo their opponents.

    VirginiaPhil 10 hours 20 min ago view
  • If only he was clutcher. More clutcher.

    Jackstraw 11 hours 39 min ago view
  • cubs win...bryant with 7HR in his last 8 games.

    crunch 18 hours 51 min ago view